Daily Telegraph affair

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The Daily Telegraph affair was a state scandal in the German Empire . The publication of a conversation between British Colonel Edward Montagu-Stuart-Wortley and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II on October 28, 1908 in the Daily Telegraph caused outrage among the German public.


The scandal was triggered by several private conversations with Colonel Wortley, which Wilhelm II had during a holiday at Highcliffe Castle in southern England (Wilhelm was a grandson of Queen Victoria and English was his second mother tongue). Colonel Wortley condensed these conversations into an artificial interview and sent it to the Daily Telegraph . There the manuscript was traditionally correctly sent to Wilhelm in Berlin and asked for confirmation. The emperor had often stumbled upon his own undiplomatic manner; he had therefore left the confirmation to his government.

Actually, Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow would have been given this task. However, since he was on vacation at Norderney , he allegedly passed on the paper sent to him unseen. Since his press chief Otto Hammann was also on vacation, the article ended up on the desk of a subordinate official of the Foreign Office who authorized it . In research it is controversial whether Bülow actually did not read the interview. While a study published in 2002 by Peter Winzen accepts Bülow's knowledge, older biographical works on Bülow are skeptical here.

The outrage over the interview was sparked primarily by four allegations made by the emperor:

  1. He belongs to an English-friendly minority in the German Empire - which, contrary to his intentions, lightly reinforced the English fear of German rearmament.
  2. He had not only rejected Russian-French action against England in the Boer War , but also informed Queen Victoria of this - with which he presented himself as an independent foreign politician in the European alliance.
  3. The Boer War had been won by a battle plan drawn up by him, which was an extremely presumptuous one - as if the British had needed operational tutoring from him; Wilhelm had congratulated the President of the Boer Republic Transvaal in the Krüger telegram in 1896 after the Boers had succeeded in fending off the Jameson Raid of the British.
  4. The German fleet construction is directed not against England, but against the Far East states - which was a provocation against Japan in particular .

These clumsy statements were therefore strongly characterized by arrogance and diplomatic tactlessness. There, where they saw themselves in global political competition with the British Empire , they were appalled by the ingratiation of the emperor and the apparent indiscretion as well as the apparent inability of the government apparatus, but they did not spark a “storm of indignation”.

This was reinforced by the fact that at the height of the crisis the emperor traveled to Donaueschingen to hunt at Prince Fürstenberg .


This subsequently led to a veritable state crisis, in the course of which the Chancellor offered his resignation and parts of the public demanded the abdication of Wilhelm II. The long-smoldering discomfort even among circles loyal to the emperor with the “personal regiment” of Wilhelm broke through and led to the demand that the emperor be satisfied with the role of a moderate constitutional monarch. This incident made the German people aware of the unsatisfactory constitutional situation in the Reich.

Political Consequences

Afterwards it became apparent that all political parties in the Reichstag and in public were outraged by the emperor, including the conservatives. The Chancellor also distanced himself from the Kaiser in order to distract from his own failure in reviewing the interview. This division was, despite a mediated conversation, the starting point for Bülow's dismissal on June 14, 1909. The emperor also drew at least certain consequences from the scandal: While up to this point he had always liked to “hit the drum” (e.g. . with his " Huns Speech "), he held back in the following years with martial remarks.

Wilhelm II presented himself as friendly to England, while in February 1909 Edward VII and his wife Alexandra visited the imperial couple in Berlin. This was the first official state visit by Edward (who ruled from January 1901 until his death in May 1910) to Germany.


  • Peter Winzen : The Empire on the Brink. The Daily Telegraph Affair and the 1908 Hale Interview . Presentation and documentation . Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2002.

Web links


  1. Peter Winzen: The Empire on the Abyss. The Daily Telegraph Affair and the 1908 Hale Interview . Presentation and documentation . Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2002, p. 34.
  2. Michael Fröhlich: Imperialism. German colonial and world politics 1880–1914 . dtv, Munich 1994, p. 115.
  3. Michael Fröhlich: Imperialism. German colonial and world politics 1880–1914 . dtv, Munich 1994, p. 115.
  4. on the reception of his visit see z. B. Reichstag speech by v. Bülow on March 29, 1909, page 178f.